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Written by Claire Richardson

Osteopaths are allied health practitioners with a focus on physical health. This positions us well to understand the relationship between physical activity and overall health. Fostering a love of physical activity and teaching young people the value of physical health is a significantly worthwhile pursuit, as it has flow on effects for the whole of adulthood, even into old age.

We understand that exercise is somewhat of a miracle drug, preventing and improving conditions such as diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, chronic pain and many others. Research has proven the correlation between increased physical activity in adolescence and improved health outcomes in adulthood. This is due to healthy habits such as routine exercise being created in our formative years, lingering into adulthood. Research has also found that physically active adolescents are statistically less likely to take up tobacco smoking in later life.

The foundations of lifelong physical health are laid in adolescence.

For instance, did you know that your peak bone density is achieved at approximately age 28? The exercise and activity undertaken in the years prior to this will reap rewards in older age as a protector against osteoporosis. It is for these reasons that encouraging our younger patients to nurture and cultivate their physical health is imperative. However, parroting facts and statistics such as these may not be a compelling way of making a young person emphasize and prioritise their physical health. As parents, there are a few ways in which we can teach our children the value of physical health, and all the things which contribute to it, such as exercise and a healthy diet.

Relationships Australia suggests that “you are the most significant role model in your children’s lives.” . When it comes to exercise habits, this is certainly true, as research has shown that children whose parents were chronically sedentary are 10x more likely to become sedentary adults themselves. If we want to foster active children who understand the importance of cultivating their physical health, our actions may indeed speak louder than our words.

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